Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia inch toward resolving Nile dam crisis

Al-Monitor
Published on March 11,2015

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry speaks during a press conference with his Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, March 6, 2015. (photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry speaks during a press conference with his Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, March 6, 2015. (photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)

CAIRO — When the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi laid the foundation stone of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in April 2011 in the wake of the January 25 Revolution, he marked the beginning of a long standoff between Cairo and Addis Ababa and much instability and chaos in Egypt. The conflicting parties decided in 2014 to return to the negotiating table in a bid to overcome their differences and disagreement about the risks the GERD poses to Egypt’s water security. The first Malabo meeting, which took place in August 2014, addressed the technical aspects of the issue.

On March 3, the foreign and water ministers of the Eastern Nile countries of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia held three days of closed negotiations in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. The three countries reached a preliminary consensus on a trilateral political and technical agreement on water use in the Eastern Nile basin and the risks from the GERD. The plan’s contribution to ending the conflict on the Nile waters is uncertain, as many issues remain, such as the dam’s negative impact on Egypt.

Following the talks, Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam Maghazi said in a March 6 press statement, “The document relates to Egypt’s and Sudan’s concerns regarding the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The document is seen as a positive step forward, which will be followed by other steps once it is referred to the presidents of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia for review and ratification.

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